5 Ways to Infuse Your Story with Gripping Emotion (Part 2): Captivate with Change-Worthy Characters


There are 5 strategies that, if properly applied, can infuse every element in your story with gripping emotion. With this knowledge, you can deliver the kind of edge-of-your-seat thrill ride readers can’t resist.

In the last post, we examined the first off these techniques: Amplify the Aftermath. Today, we are going to look at the second method, which I call, Captive with Change-Worthy Characters.

The fictional population of a story provide life, vitality and emotional “oophm” to the literary experience.

Characters don’t have to be nice, perfect, heroic, good or comfortable to rivet readers to the page. They need only posses the essential qualities of a captivating character.

Traits of Captivating Characters

  • Interesting
  • Sympathetic
  • Change-Worthy

There are many ways to infuse characters with interest. Some of the most common methods used by bestselling authors include:

The Law of Best/Worst (the worst mobster, the best detective). In my Past Lives novel series, the main protagonist discovers he is a reincarnation of history’s worst serial killer.

Exaggeration (larger than life actions and dialogue – characters who do and say the things we all wish we would do and say). James Bond is a perfect example of this method. He is a super spy who travels the globe, kills dozens of bad guys against all odds, outsmarts everyone and has great “comeback lines”.

Obsessions/Arcane Knowledge (interesting hobbies, past times, passions and knowledge). Dan Brown’s perpetually bestselling novels about a symbologist named Langdon is a good example. I believe I learn more from each Dan Brown book than I did in an entire four years of high school.

Remember, captivating characters can be sociopaths or Sunday school teachers (sometimes, both!); the only rule is that they can’t be boring.


What techniques do you use to make your characters more interesting? 


Christopher Kokoski is a speaker, trainer and author of Wicker Hollow and the Past Lives novel series.

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